The Info List - Namahage

(生剥)[1] in traditional Japanese folklore
Japanese folklore
is a demonlike being, portrayed by men wearing hefty ogre masks and traditional straw capes (mino) during a New Year's ritual[2] of the Oga Peninsula[3] area of Akita Prefecture
Akita Prefecture
in northern Honshū, Japan.[4] The frightfully dressed men, armed with deba knives (albeit wooden fakes[3] or made of papier-mâché) and toting a teoke (手桶, "hand pail" made of wood),[2] march in pairs or threes going door-to-door making rounds of people's homes, admonishing children who may be guilty of laziness or bad behavior,[2] yelling phrases like "Are there any crybabies around?" (泣く子はいねがぁ, Nakuko wa inee gā?)[5] or "Are naughty kids around?" (悪い子はいねえか, Waruiko wa inee ka?) in the pronunciation and accent of the local dialect.


1 Older tradition

1.1 Season 1.2 Etymology

2 Legend 3 Interpretations 4 Similar ogre traditions 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Older tradition[edit] The practice has shifted over the years. Season[edit] The namahage visits nowadays take place on New Year's Eve[6] (using the Western calendar). But it used to be practiced on the so-called "Little New Year" (小正月, Koshōgatsu),[3] the first full moon night of the year. This is the 15th day of the first lunar calendrical year, which is not the same thing as January 15;[7] it usually falls around mid-February, exactly two weeks after the Chinese New Year (Japanese: Kyūshogatsu). Etymology[edit] The namahage's purpose was to admonish laggards who sit around the fire idly doing nothing useful.[3][8] One of the refrains used by the namahage in the olden days was "Blisters peeled yet?" (なもみコ剝げたかよ, namomi ko hagetaka yo).[3] Namomi signifies heat blisters, or more precisely hidako (火だこ, hidako) ( Erythema ab igne
Erythema ab igne
or EAI), a rashlike condition caused by overexposure to fire, from sitting by the dugout irori hearth. Thus "Fire rash peeling" is generally believed to be the derivation of the name namahage.[8] Some of the namahage's other spoken lines of old were "Knife whetted yet?" (包丁コとげたかよ, hōchōko togetaka yo)[3] and "Boiled adzuki beans done yet?" (小豆コ煮えたかよ, azuki ko nietaka yo).[3] The knife apparently signified the instrument to peel the blisters,[9] and it was customary to have azuki gruel on the "Little New Year".[10] Although the namahage are nowadays conceived of as a type of oni or ogre, it was originally a custom where youngsters impersonated the kami who made visitations during the New Year's season.[3] Thus it is a kind of toshigami. The namahage would typically receive mochi from the households they visited,[3] but newlywed couples were supposed to play host to them in full formal attire and offer them sake and food.[3] Legend[edit] The legend of the Namahage
varies according to an area. An Akita legend has developed regarding the origins of namahage, that Emperor Wu of Han (d. 87 BC) from China came to Japan bringing five demonic ogres to the Oga area, and the ogres established quarters in the two local high peaks, Honzan (本山) and Shinzan (真山). These oni, as they are most commonly called in Japan, stole crops and young women from Oga's villages.[6][11] The citizens of Oga wagered the demons that if they could build a flight of stone steps, one thousand steps in all, from the village to the five shrine halls[5] (variant: from the sea shore to the top of Mt. Shinzan[11]) all in one night, then the villagers will supply them with a young woman every year.[11] But if they failed the task they would have to leave. Just as the ogres were about to complete the work, a villager mimicked the cry of a rooster, and the ogres departed, believing they had failed.[5][11] Interpretations[edit] An obvious purpose of the festival is to encourage young children to obey their parents and to behave, important qualities in Japan's heavily structured society. Parents know who the Namahage
actors are each year and might request them to teach specific lessons to their children during their visit.[12] The Namahage
repeat the lessons to the children before leaving the house.[13] Some ethnologists and folklorists suggest it relates to a belief in deities (or spirits) coming from abroad to take away misfortune and bring blessings for the new year,[14] while others believe it is an agricultural custom where the kami from the sacred mountains visit.

Namahage-kan or Namahage
Museum, Oga, Akita


Similar ogre traditions[edit] Similar traditions in other regions are called:

Yamahage in the former Yūwa, Akita, now part of Akita, Akita. Nagomehagi[ja] (ナゴメハギ) of Noshiro, Akita. Amahage[ja] (アマハゲ) of Yamagata prefecture. Amamehagi[ja] (あまめはぎ) of Ishikawa prefecture. Appossha[ja] (あっぽっしゃ) of Fukui prefecture. Suneka[ja] (スネカ), Anmo, Nagomi or Nagomihakuri in northern Iwate prefecture. Amaburakosagi[ja] (あまぶらこさぎ) in Ehime Prefecture (Shikoku) Toshidon[ja], parallel practice in Koshikijima Islands, Kagoshima prefecture[15] Akamata-Kuromata[ja], a parallel but secretive practice of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa[16]

See also[edit]

List of Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Setsubun
or mamemaki, practice of casting roasted soy beans to ward ogres or ghouls. tsuina[ja], a more ancient form of ghoul-warding passed down from China. Kasedori[ja], where men dress taper-headed straw costume Kaminoyama, Yamagata Krampus, a demonic creature, believed to accompany Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
to punish children in some European countries during Christmas. Black Peter, a similar being who plays a similar role for Christmas celebrations in the Netherlands. Ogoh-ogoh
- demons of Bali who are celebrated on their new year.


^ Yamamoto 1978, The Namahage, p.9, 35 ^ a b c Bocking 1998, Shinto Dict., p.98 ^ a b c d e f g h i j Heibonsha 1969, vol. 17, p.46, article on Namahage
by Makita, Shigeru (牧田茂) ^ Yamamoto 1978, The Namahage, p.13, passim. ^ a b c "秋田県男鹿市の民俗行事「なまはげ」の由来" (snippet). Shūkan shinchō. 41 (1). 1996. , p.40 "「ウォー、泣く子いねがあ」; "鬼どもに一夜のうちに村から五社堂まで一千段の石段を築くこと、という条件を出す。石段が完成する直前に、村人が一番鶏の.." ^ a b 日本大百科全書. 1. Shogakkan. 1984. ISBN 9784095260013. , under "Akita", p.177 ^ Though January 15 is stated by Greene 2005, p.57, and a number of other sources without proper explanation ^ a b De Mente, Boye (1989). Everything Japanese (snippet). Passport Books. , p.80. ^ Akita Prefecture
Akita Prefecture
2003 (website) ^ Hasegawa, Kai (長谷川櫂) (2002). "Time in Saijiki". Japan review. Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyū Sentā. 14. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2012-07-21. , p.168 ([google snippet https://books.google.com/books?id=9Pg-AQAAIAAJ]) ^ a b c d Akita Prefecture
Akita Prefecture
2003, Namahage
wepbpage ^ Yamamoto, Yoshiko (1978). The Namahage: a festival in the northeast of Japan. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Inc. p. 113. ISBN 0-915980-66-5.  ^ Yamamoto, Yoshiko (1978). The Namahage: a festival in the northeast of Japan. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Inc. p. 114. ISBN 0-915980-66-5.  ^ "The Namahage
Festival". Retrieved 19 August 2012.  ^ Bocking, Brian (1997). A Popular Dictionary of Shintō (previewpreview). Psychology Press. ISBN 9780700710515. , p.98 under marebito notes the parallel ^ Plutschow, Herbert E. (1990). Chaos and Cosmos: Ritual in Early and Medieval Japanese Literature (preview). Brill. ISBN 9789004086289. , p.60 notes the parallel, but mistakenly says the islands are controlled by Kagoshima

(dictionaries and encyclopedias)

Heibonsha (1969) [1968]. 世界百科事典(Sekai hyakka jiten). (world encyclopedia, in Japanese). Bocking, Brian (1997). A Popular Dictionary of Shintō (previewpreview). Psychology Press. ISBN 9780700710515. , p. 98 Greene, Meg; Agrhananda Bharati (ed.) (2005). Japan: A Primary Source Cultural Guide (preview). The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 9781404229129. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) , p. 57. This source and many other sources give the date of "January 15", without properly commenting that this is the lunar calendar date used in old times (closer to mid-February, two-weeks after Chinese New Years, as explained above).

(monograms and folklore studies)

Yamamoto, Yoshiko; Institute for the Study of Human Issues (1978). The Namahage: a festival in the northeast of Japan (snippet). Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. ISBN 9780915980666.  Naumann, Nelly (1963). "'Yama no Kami': die japanische Berggottheit (Teil I: Grundvorstellungen)". Asian Folklore Studies (in German). 

Nakamura, Takao (中村たかお) (1951). "Notes on namahage (Possible remnants of primi- tive secret societies on the Japanese archipelago)(ナマハゲ覚書)". Minzokugaku kenkyu (民族学研究). XV. 

External links[edit]

Akita Prefecture
Akita Prefecture
(2003). "男鹿のなまはげ" (preview). 美しき水の郷あきた. Akita Prefecture. Retrieved May 2012.  Check date values in: access-date= (help)

v t e

Japanese folklore


Awa Tanuki Gassen Bunbuku Chagama Hakuzōsu Hanasaka Jiisan Issun-bōshi Kachi-kachi Yama Kintarō Kurozuka Momotarō Nezumi no Sumō Saru Kani Gassen Shita-kiri Suzume Taketori Monogatari Tamamo-no-Mae Tawara Tōda Urashima Tarō Yamata no Orochi Yotsuya Kaidan

Text collections

Konjaku Monogatarishū Otogizōshi

Legendary creatures

Abura-akago Akaname Akashita Akuma Amanojaku Amefurikozō Amikiri Aobōzu Bakeneko Baku Binbōgami Biwa-bokuboku Chimimōryō Chōchin-obake Daidarabotchi Dodomeki Dragon Enenra Funayūrei Furaribi Futakuchi-onna Gashadokuro Goryō Hanako-san Hibagon Hitotsume-kozō Hitotsume-nyūdō Hone-onna Ikiryō Ikuchi Inugami Inugami
Gyoubu Ittan-momen Jinmenju Jorōgumo Kamaitachi Kappa Kasa-obake Kasha Kawauso Keukegen Kirin Kitsune Kitsunebi Kodama Komainu Kudan Kuchisake-onna Kyubi Mikaribaba Mikoshi-nyūdō Misaki Mizuchi Mokumokuren Mononoke Mujina Namahage Namazu Nekomata Ningyo Noderabō Noppera-bō Nue Nuppeppō Nurarihyon Nure-onna Nurikabe Nyūdō-bōzu Obake Oboroguruma Oni Onibaba Onibi Onryō Ōnyūdō Otoroshi Rokurokubi Samebito Satori Shachihoko Shidaidaka Shikigami Shinigami Shiryō Shōjō Shuten-dōji Sōjōbō Takaonna Tanuki Ten Tengu Tenome Tesso Tōfu-kozō Tsukumogami Tsuchigumo Tsuchinoko Tsurubebi Tsurube-otoshi Ubagabi Ubume Umibōzu Umi zatō Ushi-oni Uwan Wanyūdō Yamabiko Yamawaro Yamajijii Yama-uba Yanari Yōsei Yosuzume Yuki-onna Yūrei Zashiki-warashi

Mythology in popular culture Legenda